Dead Poetic
Four Wall Blackmail



by AmericnZero02 USER (6 Reviews)
July 23rd, 2006 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Two years after buying and being a big fan of Dead Poetic's sophomore album New Medicines, I decided to check out the boys' first album. Before buying I was both optimistic because I liked New Medicines so much, and skeptical because I know debut albums are rarely any given band's best. Expecting the melody and energy I had heard from New Medicines and seen at one of their live shows supporting Instruction and Papa Roach I found just that, but I can't say it was what I was hoping for. Four Wall Blackmail offers a garage band sound with a few less than great tracks and only a couple particularly good ones.

On Four Wall Blackmail Dead Poetic is:
Zach Miles- Guitar
Brandon Rike- Vocals
Chad Shellabarger- Bass
Josh Shellabarger- Drums

1. Burgundy
The song kicks off with a hard hitting guitar riff blended with melodic vocals; a combination that would become one of Dead Poetic's defining characteristics. The chorus introduces a somewhat soothing feeling until the screaming comes in. The bridge and the outro are just slower versions of the chorus. Not a good idea. This really adds to how repetitive the song is. By the time the song is over I get sick of hearing the lines "When you cried, when you died" and "I believed you." 6/10

2. The Corporate Enthusiast
One of the heavier tracks on the album, The Corporate Enthusiast has an alternation of screaming and singing that reminds me of a few Funeral For A Friend songs. The main riff of the song is both heavy while upbeat, kind of a unique feeling. At a Dead Poetic show I could see people either moshing or bouncing to this one. The bridge slows the song down and introduces a very mellow feel to the song. Suddenly the screaming returns with hardly any build up. Not exactly the kind of surprise I'm looking for when I listen to an album for the first time. 7/10

3. A Green Desire
The verse is very similar to that of The Corporate Enthusiast. The chorus brings that recurring theme in Dead Poetic's music, a distorted riff under very emotional vocals that sound like they belong in an acoustic love song. A Green Desire's bridge builds on that idea by cutting down the track to softly spoken vocals accompanied by some subtle bass and drums. Directly after comes screaming once again with no introduction. A Green Desire is one of the weakest songs on the album. There is too much resemblance to The Corporate Enthusiast and the cliche love lyrics get old fast. 6/10

4. Four Wall Blackmail
This song is a drastic change from A Green Desire. Lyrically it's exceptional, and it does a much better job of creating a melodic atmosphere. There is still screaming but is left in moderation so the harmony could be thrived on. This song is much more similar to what would be later seen on New Medicines. The song slowly fades out with the words "Right on the floor" screamed over and over. Throughout this album I find myself doing my absolute best to make out what is being said during the screams. The voice almost sounds like a dog barking in some places. I had to look in the CD booklet to figure that last one out. Regardless, the title track has been the best song so far. 8/10

5. August Winterman
The only single off of Four Wall Blackmail, August Winterman opens with a very dark, sinister guitar riff. Although the lyrics aren't the greatest, they are very entertaining. Brandon takes a rather common topic, depression, and finds an excellent way of interpreting it. The music of the chorus sounds very upbeat but the lyrics keep the depressed mood flowing with words like "It's a disease they'll never have a cure for." August Winterman is a very simple song musically, but it shows some real potential for Dead Poetic in being able to step outside of their regular boundaries and experiment a little. 8/10

6. Ollie Otson
Ollie Otson begins with a normal guitar riff but the song completely changes when the vocals come in. Brandon sings aggressively without screaming, and half the time the guitar and bass are lost leaving just the vocals and drums, a technique that I have really only seen done by punk bands. The chorus has little to offer as it gets repetitive. But overall Ollie Otson is a relatively fun song, not very emotional and keeps an upbeat tone throughout. Toward the end of the song what sounds like the intro to a guitar solo starts, but then the chorus vocals come in. Zach just plays a new riff for the final chorus, which is a nice touch to the song. I would have preferred a solo, not that I am a big fan of guitar solos, but so far there has been no real skillful work done by the guitar, bass or drums. 7.5/10

7. Bliss Tearing Eyes
An acoustic song, Bliss Tearing Eyes seems to be a natural sound for Dead Poetic. Brandon's voice blends in better with slow music than it does with their heavier material. The guitar riff is basically the same all throughout the song so the vocals are asked to take over the song. The lyrics aren't anything special, and there is no standout part of the song. But this song has a good overall effect. While you probably wont catch yourself singing along to this one, after it's over you will likely feel very calm and relaxed. The same effect any Angels & Airwaves song could give you (although Angels & Airwaves does a better job). 7/10

8. Stereochild
Stereochild is a very bright, upbeat track due to the piano and clean guitar amongst other things. If it weren't for all of the screaming this could have been a single. This track makes you want to sing along, but once again because of the screaming listeners will have trouble interpreting the lyrics. Besides that I like this song. The alternation of the guitar to drums and singing to screaming sounds great. The song ends on a different note with Brandon softly singing without the accompaniment of the screams. 7.5/10

9. Arlington Arms
Another song that could have been a single, Arlington Arms is a catchy song dominated by the drums. The drums begin the song and remain clear throughout. The chorus is relatively catchy and the guitar is better on this track than most. This song could almost pass off as punk. Arlington Arms is fast paced, has aggressive vocals and is very simple. One of the album's better tracks. 7.5/10

10. Tell Myself Goodbye
A typical song from this album with distorted guitar, singing and screaming back and forth, etc. The drums are better than normal though. An average song, I think it's safe to call this song a filler. I'm pretty somewhere in Writing an Album 101 it says something along the lines of "avoid fillers, but if you have to have a couple, don't start or end your album with one." Tell Myself Goodbye leaves listeners with no sense of closure. I like to think that at the end of any given album a band tries to leave listeners with a good taste in their mouths or get one last important point across. Not the situation here. 6.5/10

I found Four Wall Blackmail to be a much less mature album than New Medicines. There are various simple sophomoric mistakes that brought the album down and easily could have been changed. A few examples being screaming at inappropriate times, making the lyrics during the screams incomprehensive and making too many songs sound similar. I think that on this album Dead Poetic was still trying to find their sound, exactly where they fit in in the rock world. Brandon has a unique voice and he can hit really high notes but he hardly takes advantage of his gift on this album. Something I liked about this album is how unique it is. They established a different sound that I haven't heard anywhere else. Something I didn't like was how there weren't any really great tracks. Almost nothing that would be very memorable. The musicianship wasn't exactly up to par with my regular standards. While there isn't any part of the album that sounds like pure crap, there isn't any part that sounds particularly great and most of that lies in the band's inability to do anything really creative besides the regular heavy riffs (besides Bliss Tearing Eyes of course). So my suggestion for anyone thinking of getting into Dead Poetic, don't make this your first Dead Poetic album, while it isn't horrible, it's not the same great band that would be heard on later releases.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
July 23rd 2006


I saw them opening for Papa Roach and Instruction as well. I didn't much like them, they had too much of a punk leaning for me. Good review, though.

July 24th 2006


good review, even though it was really confusing in some places. i think i've heard one song by these guys, and it was pretty good, i should check out "New Medicines".

July 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

I'm not really agree with you. For me, screams are very good and powerful. Even if I don't understand its everytime, I think that it's the screaming that make their unique sound ( I clarify that I'm french, so it doesn't disturb me a lot ). For the rest of the review, you make a good job. I hope that their new album, the one after New Medecines, will includes screaming vocals parts !!! Because the song I've heard doesn't include its. This Message Edited On 07.24.06

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